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Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat, is a disease dreaded by dog owners and veterinary professionals.

In this emergency condition, the stomach fills with gas and rotates on its axis, leading to cardiovascular shock and abnormal function of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, kidney, and clotting systems.

Known risk factors for bloat include breed, increased body weight, lean body condition, deep-chested conformation, abnormal stomach motility, family history of bloat, and age. Dietary factors associated with the condition include feeding food of small particle size or large volumes of food at one time, feeding a single food type, and feeding a dry food with oil or fat among the first four ingredients.

Because of the increased risk for bloat in specific breeds and in dogs with a family history of bloat, genetic factors are likely to contribute to disease risk, but they have not yet been described. With funding from the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), investigators at Tufts University are examining the genetic and metabolic factors associated with bloat to understand the true cause of this disease (CHF Grant 01937-B: Evaluating the Complex Genetic Basis of Bloat).

They recently published their findings in Genes,1 providing important information about the genetic basis of bloat in dogs.

Investigators performed genetic analysis on 253 dogs representing 10 different breeds – Borzoi, German Shepherd Dog, Great Dane, Standard Poodle, Doberman, Briard, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, and Smooth Collie. By comparing the DNA of affected dogs to similar healthy dogs, they identified 27 significant single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, associated with the risk of bloat. Some variations were associated with a decreased risk of bloat, while others were associated with an increased risk. Eleven of these SNPs occur within or near genes associated with stomach motility, lending support for their involvement in disease development.

Single Nucleotide Polymorphism

A single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP (pronounced “snip”), is a variation at a single position in the DNA sequence among individuals.

These results provide clues to the genetic causes of bloat in dogs. Additional study will validate the significance of these genetic variations and explore additional breed-specific genetic variants of interest.

Learn more about CHF’s investment in research to prevent, treat and cure canine diseases such as bloat at


  1. Piras, I.S.; Perdigones, N.; Zismann, V.; Briones, N.; Facista, S.; Rivera, J.L.; Rozanski, E.; London, C.A.; Hendricks, W.P.D. Identification of Genetic Susceptibility Factors Associated with Canine Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus. Genes2020, 11, 1313.

Sharon Albright is the Manager of Communications & Veterinary Outreach for the Canine Health Foundation.

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